Hearing the Voice of God in the Sacrifice of Isaac

Headshot of Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson
by Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson
posted on September 4, 2018
Every year, during the Rosh Ha-Shanah services, we confront one of the Torah’s most terrifying texts. What are we to make of the Akedah, the sacrifice of Isaac, in which the father of our people is called to murder his son as an act of religious obedience?  What are we to make of a test in which killing a beloved child constitutes success and refusing entails ultimate ontological failure?  What are we to do with such a terrible story?  Read more...

Theology of Yom Kippur: Repentance, Confession, & Atonement

Headshot of Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson
by Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson
posted on September 21, 2017
Torah Reading
Haftarah Reading
Yom Kippur, the pinnacle of the Days of Awe, displays a quantum-like quality of reconciling two distinct but crucial modes of being. Atonement – the public need to make good for collectively falling short, for communal manifestations of greed, wrongdoing, impiety – jostles with the need for Repentance – the individual’s return from having veered off the narrow path of righteousness. At its earliest layer, the Biblical Yom Kippur is a day of atonement – a day when the entire people of Israel come together to cleanse the Temple sanctuary of the residue of a year’s worth of sin. Read more...

Return to Your Soul’s Homeland

Headshot of Rabbi Cheryl Peretz
by Rabbi Cheryl Peretz
posted on September 20, 2017
Torah Reading
Haftarah Reading
Knowing that his own life's journey will end before the people enter the land of Israel, in this week's double Torah portion of Nitsavim- Vayelekh Moses' gathers the people for one final address. He tells them: …If you return to God, and listen to God's voice, doing everything that I Moses am commanding you today… God will be waiting in love to help you with the return, he will show compassion, he will help you to re-settle in a Godly world, he will bring you to the land of Israel which you will inhabit. (based on Deuteronomy 30:1-10) Read more...

Finding Meaning in Nothing

Headshot of Rabbi Cheryl Peretz
by Rabbi Cheryl Peretz
posted on September 21, 2016
Torah Reading
Haftarah Reading
Author Jane Tillner, in a book called Nothing, tells the story of Pierre-Anthon, a seventh grader who learns about death and realizes there is no meaning to life. Pierre leaves his classroom, climbs a tree, and stays there. Despite their greatest efforts, his classmates cannot make him come down, not even by pelting him with rocks. Read more...

My Favorite Part

Headshot of Rabbi Cheryl Peretz
by Rabbi Cheryl Peretz
posted on September 21, 2015
Torah Reading
Haftarah Reading
Author Jane Tillner, in a book called Nothing, tells the story of Pierre-Anthon, a seventh grader who learns about death and realizes there is no meaning to life. Pierre leaves his classroom, climbs a tree, and stays there. Despite their greatest efforts, his classmates cannot make him come down, not even by pelting him with rocks. Read more...